Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Martin Hennecke

Macau won't delay renewing gaming licences
Macau will review its gaming policy based on the industry's operations since the 1999 handover and will not delay renewals of casino licenses, incoming Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai-nong said yesterday. Macau's six casino licenses, held by SJM Holdings (0880), Wynn Macau (1128), Galaxy Entertainment (0027), MGM China (2282), Sands China (1928) and Melco International Development's (0200) spin-off Melco Resorts & Entertainment, are set to expire between 2020 and 2022. Lei said he expects issues to crop up during the rebidding and contracting process, while admitting the policy needs to be modernized. He said the government would put public interest and welfare first. Lei takes over from Lionel Leong, the secretary for economy and finance since 2014, later this month. He will be the first economy secretary since Macau's handover from Portugal in 1999 not to have worked in relevant private sector businesses. Meanwhile, gaming revenues fell 8.5 percent year-on-year to 22.88 billion patacas (HK$22.21 billion) in November, as the world's largest gambling hub heads toward its first annual revenue decline in three years. However, the decline was not as bad at the median analyst estimate of a 10 percent fall, with year-to-date revenue only down by 2.4 percent. American investment bank Jefferies expects December gaming revenue will continue to fall 15 percent year-on-year with cautious sentiment and pressures on the VIP segment and premium mass market. Analyst Andrew Lee expects high rollers outside Guangdong province will delay their trips to Macau considering the situation in neighboring Hong Kong, while the inauguration ceremony of the new Chief Executive of Macau this month will also put off visitors. China International Capital Corporation analysts also predict that gross gaming revenues will decrease by 10-15 percent this month. Shares of the casino operators overall rose yesterday, with Melco International Development up 4.06 percent to HK$19.98 and MGM China climbing 2.06 percent to HK$11.88.

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